TORONTO - Tools, training and talent aside, the one thing you really need to make a piece of stained glass is time.

“A stained glass window, if it is truly a stained glass piece, you put in about five months,” said Joseph Aigner, owner of Artistic Glass since it opened in 1971. “That’s realistic. If it is just coloured glass and leading, that’s different.”

For a piece to be genuine stained glass one must paint it, heat it in a kiln to 677 degrees Celsius, and repeat as necessary. Each time this is done, four times on average to produce a detailed face, it takes about 16 hours because once the glass is heated it requires half a day to cool before a second coat of paint can be applied.

Not only is this the defining characteristic of stained glass, it is also a very time-consuming stage of the process — one which many people never associate with the semi-transparent art work.

“A lot of people have the imagination that this is what stained glass is,” said Aigner, pointing to large piece of coloured glass that had been tinted during the manufacturing of the solid glass sheet. “You have to then inform them that what they have is coloured glass leaded together.”

Aside from the paint and bake component, the process of making a piece of artistically leaded glass — be it clear, stained, coloured or more commonly a combination — is the same.

A design is composed and once it satisfies the collective vision of those involved, a full-scale version is drawn up. One of these drawings is then taken and, using wide-blade scissors to compensate for the necessary gaps for leading, cut into the individual sections. These patterns, labelled for further reference, are used to cut out each piece of glass by hand.

Leading is when the multiple sections of glass are bound together. To do this a full-scale pattern is laid out on a table which has one corner fitted with a molding boarder. The molding, which sits higher than the table’s surface, provides the artist with a ridged edge to pin the glass pieces against as stripes of lead are used to frame each.

Once the entire project is laid out and leaded, including the outer edge, all joints are soldered together and then sealed with a specially mixed glue.

How long this all takes varies as much as the number of combinations you can make.

“(It) depends on how many pieces are in it, how difficult it is,” said Aigner, who picked up the craft as a child while working at his family’s glass shop in Germany. “When we make a church project it can take sometimes up to two years to complete.”

There are two major reasons why stained glass windows for churches take so long, said Aigner. First, priests want real stained glass, although most accept a mixture of coloured and stained to keep costs down. The second reason, church projects are large, complex and often multi-window assignments intended to please hundreds of parishioners meaning the design phase is rarely a first-draft success.

“The most challenging thing is to get the design approved,” said Aigner, who is four months into an eight-window project, each representing one of the Beatitudes, for St. Augustine Catholic High School in Markham, Ont. “We had a little bit of a problem finding images for the Beatitudes. I had a little trouble getting a concept ... but now we have a beautiful design.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

Ontario’s Catholic school trustees are pressing for changes to Dalton McGuinty’s Putting Students First Act and insisting that Catholic school boards should not be legally bound to new teacher contracts imposed by the government.

OCSTA officials will continue to push for amendments to the act to remove contentious clauses that strip school boards of important management rights pertaining to teacher hiring and student testing, said Bob Murray, OCSTA director of legislative and political affairs.

Under the proposed new law, Catholic boards will be required to operate by more restrictive policies than the province’s public boards. That inequality was created in late August when the government backtracked on Putting  Students First and returned to French and public boards the right to negotiate non-salary issues with their unions. But the same right was denied to Catholic boards.

The government had previously done a deal and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) directly with the union that represents Catholic teachers, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA). That deal was negotiated without input from Catholic trustees and their boards, and was allowed to stand after the government relented to opposition party demands to amend Putting Students First.

“While the union has signed, the boards themselves, as the legal employer, refused to sacrifice those rights (pertaining to hiring and testing) that are legally theirs,” Murray said. “So, for no reason should they be legally bound to an agreement they didn’t sign.”

Five Catholic boards had previously agreed to accept the terms negotiated between the government and OECTA and, said Murray, those boards are legally bound to honour the contract they signed. But OCSTA believes the other 24 Catholic boards should have the same negotiating rights as the public boards.

“We have these agreements that were not reached according to the legal collective bargaining process,” said Murray, adding that “labour relations rights of employers and employees have been violated.”

The trustees are concerned that granting teacher unions more input in hiring and a greater say in managing diagnostic testing will negatively impact the quality of education. In a statement, OCSTA expressed concern that decisions about education are being made for reasons of political expediency.

“These rights are important because of the impact they have on students and the quality of education delivery,” said Murray
OCSTA officials were to meet with Liberal and opposition party members to make their case for change.

“There will be opportunities for amendments to be put forward and our hope is that the opposition parties will continue to push very strongly to have these two issues fully removed from the legislation,” said Murray. “Our intention and our desire would be for the bill to be amended further to remove those two provisions to be bound to any board at this point.”
According to a government spokesman, a final vote on Putting Students First is not expected before Sept. 10.

Published in Canada

VANCOUVER - Food for the body and food for the mind were the two focal points at Dish with the Bish: Reheat, a combined potluck dinner and question-and-answer session for students with Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller.

Published in Youth Speak News
TORONTO - Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church just got a $1-million facelift. In just under one year art restorer Carlos Nunes and his team has restored the downtown Toronto parish to look as it did in 1908, except for a few new additions reflecting the culture of its Chinese congregation.    
Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust and to those non-Jews called the “Righteous Among the Nations” who helped save Jews at great personal risk. As a follow-up to this year’s Holocaust Education Week, the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem will be hosting an exhibition of 33 works by the Catholic Irish artist Thomas Delohery. The show is titled “Undeniable Truth.”

Published in Arts News